Prerna Mahajan (23), an executive with a private bank, cannot think of stepping out these days without an inhaler. She is asthmatic, and, of late, her inhaler usage has almost doubled. The reason: fog.
Apart from reducing visibility and disrupting air and road traffic, fog also poses a major health hazard, especially for those suffering from chronic ailments, such as asthma, bronchitis, high blood pressure, among others.
“I’m taking maximum precautions like wrapping myself in layers of warm clothes and eating a balanced diet, but still I need the inhaler, as I find it difficult to breathe these days. It becomes bad every winter, but this year it seems worse,” said Mahajan.
This winter, health experts are asking people to take extra care to avoid any complications, as fog mixed with pollutants can pose a greater health risk. “The fog is bad, as it carries a lot of suspended particulate matter which, if inhaled, can result in difficulty in breathing, blocked nose, asthma, aggravated sinus etc,” said Dr Arup Basu, head of department, chest medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
Breathing smoggy air can result in eye, nose, and throat irritation; chronic bronchitis; asthma and headache. The common symptoms include irritation in eye, nose and throat, shortness of breath, cough, among others. It can also result in reduced lung function that may last for as long as a week after the exposure.
“Sudden and extreme temperature difference results in most of these complications, and it takes much longer for people to recover in this weather. As it is not practically possible to control changing climate, one should take as much precaution as possible,” said a senior doctor in the internal department of medicine at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.